Friday, March 8, 2013

Moving On Up

Almost 3 years, 583 posts and 25,000+ page views later, I’m moving to my permanent virtual home:

Please set as your new home page.  The new platform is more appealing, easier to navigate, and will still host my fabulous treatise on Music, Sports, Religion, Politics, and everything in between that you have come to expect and dread.  This Blogger site will remain in suspension as a monument to my humble online beginnings, but it is time to upgrade (the platform at least).

If you currently receive automatic email announcements when I post new material, you’ll need to set that notification up on my new site.  It is so easy to do, I figured it out on my first try.

Please visit early and often, share it with like-minded family, friends and enemies, and most of all – let me know what you think.  I will wait patiently for you on Twitter as well - @TheMSRP.

Not gone – just moved.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Shooting Jumpers

Last week, I watched the home team Virginia Cavaliers upset their hated rival Duke Blue Devils 73-68.  It’s early March so I tuned in for a little pre-bracketology scouting on the ACC.  Virginia looked inspired.  Duke looked overmatched.  Come mid-March and tournament time, those descriptions will likely be reversed for both teams.  Besides, whether I have watched any games or not does not determine my bracket’s success.  Of the 32 opening round (now called the 2nd round but it will always be the first to me) games, I’ll hit on 23 and miss 9.  Happens every year.

The game was exciting for me because you can never count Duke out of a basketball game and the prospect of Duke losing a game, a rarity the past 20 years, is gripping TV.  What made it even more exciting was the atmosphere in the arena.  There’s nothing like a close college basketball game in March.  

I didn’t really care who won.  The fans in attendance, however, did.  When the final buzzer sounded, the fans streamed down the aisles and onto the court to create an impromptu mosh pit of bouncing hysterical collegians, faces painted UVA blue and orange, getting in a final work-out before drinking ‘til dawn and throwing up on the quad.  Ah, college.

Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski (pronounced ‘Coach K’) was quite upset at the Virginia fans storming the court after the game.  He was more upset than if Ryan Kelly had been called for a blocking foul in the final 2 minutes of a 2 point game.  His primary concern was player safety.

"Whatever you're doing, you need to get the team off first," Krzyzewski told the Raleigh News Observer. "Look, celebrate, have fun, obviously you won, that's cool. Just get our team off the court and our coaching staff before students come on.

"Look, do you know how close you are to. ... Just put yourself in the position of one of our players or coaches. I'm not saying any fan did this, but the potential is there all the time for a fan to just go up to you and say, 'Coach you're a [expletive],' or push you or hit you. And what do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that type of protection."

The Atlantic Coast Conference has stated that it will review its security protocols in instances when fans appear ready to storm the court, but a more powerful body has already weighed in.  The National Rifle Association has recommended that all coaches and trainers be allowed to carry concealed firearms during all away games.

NRA mouthpiece Wayne LaPierre described the plan that he argues should provide adequate protection for visiting players and coaches as well as give any drunken frat boy pause before running onto the court.  LaPierre believes the fear of guns, preferably high capacity semi-automatic guns, in the only answer.

“Lethal force must be met with lethal force,” LaPierre told the assembled media over the phone from his underground bunker.

When a reporter told him that fans storming the basketball court after a team victory is not an example of lethal force, he had a ready rebuttal. 

“Tell that to all those trampled soccer fans in Ghana.  Tell that to all the Who fans in Ohio.  Had the visiting coaches, trainers and roadies been armed, the only dead ones would have been the trample-ers, not the trample-ees.”

“We need more guns to protect those kids, those poor student-athletes.  Fans storm the court because they have no fear of being shot and killed.  I say it is time to change that mind-set, if you really want to make the court a safer place.”

Former coach Bobby Knight immediately endorsed the NRA plan.

“Nothing enforces student discipline like the threat of popping a cap in their ass.  Fear works,” barked Knight.  

When a local reporter tried to ask a follow up question of the winningest coach in NCAA history, Knight just stared at the questioner before suddenly throwing a metal folding chair into the crowd of assembled media personnel.

“See?  You’ll never ask a stupid question again now, will you?  Now imagine if I had been armed.  Press conference over.”
"If you limit the American public's access to semi-automatic technology, you limit their ability to survive," LaPierre said. (That’s a real quote, by the way)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sticks on a Plane! Sticks on a Plane!

It turns out all those ominous warnings that sequestration would cause a decrease in airline safety were not exaggerated.  Today the cracks in the system have started to appear and all plane passengers have a legitimate reason to be afraid. 

Keep your head up, frequent fliers:  The TSA has announced that hockey sticks may now be carried aboard commercial airline flights.  No more gate checking that composite Bauer One or the trusty vintage wooden Koho.  These tools of the hockey trade can now share a seat with their hockey player owners in the cabin.  An unintended consequence of sequestration no doubt.  

Hockey players everywhere are tapping their sticks on their tray tables in approval of the move but there are dangers present for other passengers.

Look out!  Steven Stamkos has been described as a “sharp-shooter” and now his signature L-6 firearm will be with him on board wearing a custom seat belt low and tight around its’ shaft.  Hopefully pucks are still banned from being brought onto the plane.  When Stamkos’ stick is loaded, he can do real damage.

If Tiger Williams is seated near you in first class, I suggest moving back to coach.  He fashioned a Hall of Fame career swinging his stick recklessly.  That guy with a hockey stick would make Mohammed Atta seem mellow by comparison.

Oh, flight attendant, you’d better get those headphones over to the surly brute with the toothless snarl in seat 7-C.  He looks like he’s taken a few spearing penalties in his day.  

It is so dangerous to fly now that sticks can be on planes that Pierre McGuire has asked for a Madden-type bus to ferry him to weekly games unless his can be guaranteed a seat behind the glass on all flights.

After the TSA announcement, Delta announced the addition of Sin Bin Seating on all of its flights over 2 hours in duration.  Any customer who does not have control of his stick at all times will be forced to sit in this new section, accompanied only by a Gatorade squirt bottle and an elderly Canadian in a crested blue blazer, for a minimum of two minutes (4 minutes if the hockey stick draws blood from another passenger).  Hitting an in-flight attendant will be cause for immediate ejection and at 30,000 feet, that is one harsh penalty.

For everyone’s benefit, I hope that flight attendants will now be required to complete special training in order to maintain order in the cabin.  It’s bad enough that hockey players are allowed on planes at all.  Now they’ll have weapons.  Breaking up a fight between hockey players is a difficult skill but when you add a stick and high altitude to the mix, things can get ugly fast.

Airlines of America, brace yourselves.  Starting today, all northern air routes will need a few extra sky marshals, preferably marshals fluent in English, French and Russian.  It is important to speak the language if you need to separate two motivated combatants. 

The wearing of goalie masks continues to be prohibited on commercial flights and there are no plans to allow freshly sharpened skates in carry-on luggage at this time.  As the impact of sequestration continues to ripple, this may change. 

If the TSA loosens these restrictions further and allows that foul smelling hockey equipment into the overhead compartments, we’ll know it is time to start taking the train.  That stench is not safe.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Next Target

The GOP’s overtures to women in 2012 were rebuffed convincingly at the ballot box last November, thanks in no small part to the party’s romantic embrace of older white men with little or no knowledge of women, biology, or common sense.  When your party becomes synonymous with the term “legitimate rape”, it’s time for an intervention – a non-invasive one of course.

It is too early to tell if Republicans as a political party learned anything from their disastrous embrace of far right candidates for vacant Congressional seats in the last cycle.  But what remains crystal clear is that those people who hold extreme social views are most comfortable identifying themselves with the Grand Old Party.  

To wit, so far in February 2013, Republicans have been busy working towards smaller, less intrusive government, unless you have the misfortune of being a pregnant woman:

·         Michigan Republicans have introduced a bill requiring all women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before obtaining a legal abortion.  The bill states that the “performance of a diagnostic ultrasound examination of the fetus at least two hours before an abortion is performed” is required by law (not by medical necessity). 
·         A bill approved by Indiana’s state Senate Health and Provider Services Committee would require clinics to conduct trans-vaginal ultrasounds on women both before and after dispensing the pill RU486.  The bill would require two medically unnecessary ultrasounds – one before and one after, to double the shaming no doubt.
·         The Alabama Senate is debating a bill that will require women to undergo either an external or transvaginal ultrasound, and women would not have a decision as to which procedure would be used.  I guess that’s up to the doctor or the governor.  Transvaginal ultrasounds are needed to detect an embryo in the earliest weeks of pregnancy.

To improve the party’s electoral fortunes, it’s time the GOP stops focusing on women and turns their attention to men and their contribution to societal decay.  Maybe disgraced candidates Akin and Mourdock from 2012 could lead the charge in the not so distant future on men’s issues.  Then we’ll be reading about attempts to kill the real demon seed of all sexual and moral impropriety:

GOP Moves to Outlaw Male Masturbation as “Assisted Suicide”

The Republican Party’s favorite candidates from the 2012 election cycle are back in the national news, and this time, they plan no apology tours.

Former Rep. Todd Akin (MO) and former Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock have teamed up to combat the scourge of male masturbation in America, calling the legal practice the moral equivalent of “assisted suicide”.  They have drafted a bill for Congress that would outlaw the practice and carry heavy fines and mandatory jail time for habitual offenders.

Akin and Mourdock explained that life begins at ejaculation and must be respected at all levels of civil society.  Opponents believe that this sticky issue will haunt the election campaigns of fellow Republicans in 2014, and they are mounting an aggressive thrust against what some describe as too rigid a position.  

Richard Hertz, an unemployed GOP political consultant specializing in building the party’s credibility with young voters, said, “Clearly these gentlemen have chosen to take a hand’s on approach to a private and personal issue, and I believe that is what rubs voters the wrong way.  They should stop spouting off and resist the urge to touch on this sensitive subject.”

Akin and Mourdock appeared defiant at the announcement news conference.

“No potential life should be choked off before it has an opportunity to grow into a child.  It’s in the Constitution, I’m pretty sure.  The right to the pursuit of happiness does not give a person the right to kill,” said Akin.

Questions about enforcement problems being a slippery slope towards sanctioned privacy invasion were brushed off by the pair.  “We have a firm grip on this issue, trust us.  If a man cannot delay his own gratification at the expense of thousands of little potential human lives, he deserves to go to jail.  Jail is the only solution to stop this madness,” Mourdock said, choking up while he spoke.  “The only way to teach these deviants that masturbation is murder is to send them to prison.  That experience will teach them never to do that again.”

Akin and Mourdock stated that they hope this focus on men will help repair their standing with women.  In order to demonstrate the party’s renewed focus on the women’s vote, the pending legislation would only target men who Akin explained have a genetic predisposition to exercise more self-control than women.

Akin said, “The male body has ways of shutting that whole thing down.”

Democrats were in a tight spot, now having to defend an act as legal and natural that nonetheless makes people feel icky talking about.  Sen. Harry Reid focused on the challenges that would face law enforcement.

“I do not believe in the concept of nullification and I believe that question was settled by the Civil War; however, I can tell you that, should this proposed measure become the law of the land, it is likely that authorities in my home state of Nevada will refuse to enforce the law and will publicly take a hand’s off approach,” whined Reid in remarks to an empty Senate chamber.  “Nevadites or Nevadians believe it is a man’s choice.”

It could happen.

The GOP: when it comes to women’s rights, GOP should stand for Got Other Priorities.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Great American Secluster

In order to understand the status of the secluster talks, you only need to review the official transcript of the meeting this morning between the President and the Republican leadership.  The text makes it crystal clear that we are in for an entertaining and economically painful few months.  

From the White House:  Summary from meeting today between Congressional leaders and the President on the Secluster cuts scheduled to take effect today:

Obama:  Thank you for coming.  We need to stop the secluster.  It is bad for America and a dumb way to govern.

Boehner and McConnell:  We are happy to be here.  As far as the secluster, you started it.

Obama:  I suggested spending cut triggers that would be so distasteful to both parties that a grand bargain on deficit reduction would be reached.  I wrongly predicted that the threat of these draconian cuts would force a compromise.  I was wrong.

Boehner and McConnell:  Yes you were wrong.  

Obama:  I just said that.

Boehner and McConnell:  And we agree.  We are agreeable.

Obama: So let’s replace the sequester cuts with a balanced plan that addresses spending and revenue.  We can include Republican ideas and Democratic ideas.

Boehner and McConnell:  Why won’t you lead?

Obama:  I am trying to do just that.  The American people voted for me in November.  I campaigned on a platform of a balanced approach to deficit reduction.  I am trying to fulfill that promise.

Boehner and McConnell:  No you are not.  You are a tax and spend liberal.

Obama:  No I’m not.

Boehner and McConnell:  Yes you are.

Obama:  I think it was the Republican Party that approved of fighting two wars and adding a prescription drug benefit without asking for any revenue offsets.

Boehner and McConnell:  You are mischaracterizing our limited government principles in action.

Obama:  Look, are you guys willing to compromise?

Boehner and McConnell:  Yes, we are not obstructionists.

Obama:  Good.

Boehner and McConnell:  We will compromise by offering to double the amount of tax increases we have already offered.

Obama:  But you have offered zero tax increases.

Boehner and McConnell:  Fine, then we’ll triple it.  We can be reasonable.  If you don’t accept that, you are the obstructionist.  Why won’t you compromise?

Obama:  What about closing tax loopholes?  Governor Romney campaigned on a platform of closing unnecessary tax loopholes as one way of getting our balance sheet in order.

Boehner and McConnell:  Closing loopholes is a tax increase.  That is bad.

Obama:  So Romney campaigned for a tax increase?

Boehner and McConnell:  No, he campaigned to close loopholes that unfairly benefit the 47% takers in society.

Obama:  But if it is a loophole, it is by definition something that circumvents the intent of the actual tax law that was passed.

Boehner and McConnell:  We support the rule of law.  Tax loopholes are in the law.  If you want to close loopholes, you do not respect the law.  Why do you hate America?

Obama:  I don’t hate America.  I am trying to find a balanced approach that protects America for the long term without sacrificing our short term economic needs.

Boehner and McConnell:  The secluster was your plan to gut our military and make America weak.
Obama:  Actually, I suggested automatic tax increases as the trigger if a deal wasn’t reached, and your side said, “No, let’s use defense cuts.”

Boehner and McConnell:  No we didn’t.

Obama:  Yes, you did.

Boehner and McConnell:  We are rubber and you are glue.

Obama:  Gentlemen, this meeting is going nowhere.

Boehner and McConnell:  We are waiting for you to lead us.

Obama:  OK, then I will lead you to accept a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes revenue increases, targeted investments, and spending cuts.  The polls all show that the country is with me on this.

Boehner and McConnell:  Stop campaigning and lead.

Obama:  Let’s try another approach.  What do you suggest that we cut from the budget to replace the secluster?

Boehner and McConnell:  Spending.

Obama:  What spending?

Boehner and McConnell:  Government spending.

Obama: What specific type of government spending do you recommend we cut?

Boehner and McConnell:  Wasteful government spending.

Obama: What government spending is wasteful, in your opinion?

Boehner and McConnell:  Spending money we do not have.

Obama:  Look, will you get specific?

Boehner and McConnell:  In this time of crisis, we need you to eliminate uncertainty.

Obama:  That’s what I’m trying to do!

Boehner and McConnell:  We are not certain you want to remove uncertainty.

Obama:  It’s time we stop managing our nation’s business from one self-inflicted crisis to the next.  It is not what the people have sent us here to do.

Boehner and McConnell:  We don’t like leading by crisis.  You do.  Why are you always scaring people with phony crises?

Obama:  Explaining the impact of the secluster is not scaring people.  In fact, you have used the same language I have to describe the impact of the cuts.

Boehner and McConnell:  No we didn’t.  You created this crisis.  That’s what liberals do.  Stop leading us into crisis after crisis.

Obama:  So you admit I am leading?

Boehner and McConnell:  Stay away from our guns.

Obama:  I thought we were talking about the secluster.

Boehner and McConnell:  Because of your secluster cuts, we will need more guns.

Obama:  Now you are using fear to scare people.

Boehner and McConnell:  Explaining the impact of the secluster is not scaring people.  It’s called defending liberty.

Obama:  I think this meeting is over.

Boehner and McConnell:  We are sorry that you will not agree to compromise and do exactly what we propose.  We are trying to lead since you will not.

Obama:  Doing whatever you want is following, not leading.

Boehner and McConnell:  We think this meeting is over.

Obama:  I’m not sure it ever started.  

Boehner and McConnell:  Thank you for seeing us.  Would you mind leading us out?

Hiding the Sausage in Milwaukee

Sports enthusiasts across the greater Milwaukee area are asking themselves tonight, “Who is hiding the sausage?”  It could be anyone.

Guido, one of the 7-foot tall Italian sausages that participate in the Milwaukee Brewers’ mid-game sausage race, has gone missing since February 16th.  It seems that the big sausage was slipped out of the backdoor of the Milwaukee Curling Club while attending a promotional event and remains at large.  Police are hoping that the giant piece of meat will be hard to keep under cover and will reappear soon.

The disappearance of the sausage occurred during a beer tasting event when presumably the bar patrons were too intoxicated to notice a giant sausage slipping through their midst.  Police were surprised that no one saw or felt the sausage come or go that night.

“A sausage that size has a mind of its own.  It could have slipped in anywhere and may still be there,” said a police spokesperson.  “Someone is hiding the sausage and we will not rest until we check every crevice and we find the missing link.” 

Local residents are dumbfounded.  “I’ve lived in this town for 25 years and it is hard to hide a sausage in this place,” offered Dick LeStange, a regular lecher at the Curling Club.  

“Believe me, I’ve tried with something much smaller than a 7-footer and it’s not that easy.”

There were some picture being posted online of women at other local watering holes with their arms around the sausage that same night, and the meat appeared to be in good spirits and standing at attention for the cameras.

Security around the other Milwaukee giant sausages has been increased.  “The last thing we need around here is some other drunken fan to try and grab another giant sausage in public.  Milwaukee has a reputation to protect.”

Authorities warn that if you come into contact with the big sausage, do not panic but seek immediate protection.    

UPDATE:  The sausage has been found.  According to the Milwaukee Journal , it was dropped off at TJ Ryan’s bar in Cedarburg on Wednesday night.  The bartender was asked by the men who returned it to pretend that she had not seen anything, and she then gave the paper the quote of the year describing the mysterious return of the mascot costume:  

"Like I didn't just see two guys plop a sausage on a barstool."

Thursday, February 28, 2013

An Angel Wants to Wear His Red Shoes

Today marked the voluntary end of the Benedict XVI Era of the Catholic Church.  The Pope is now off to enjoy his post-papacy years, sleeping in, writing books and engaging in a lucrative speaking tour.  He will be now known on talk radio as the former half-term pope of the Catholic Church, but who cares?  No more waving!

Some say his departure was hastened by the growing scandal surrounding leaked internal documents from the Vatican.  I’m not sure about that, but I do know that his letter of resignation to his boss was leaked just today.  Since there is no Commandment against me posting it, here it is for my loyal readers:

To:  The Almighty

From:  Pope Benedict XVI

RE:  Retirement

As you probably know from listening to my daily prayers, I have decided to exercise the “free will” clause in my employment contract and resign as Pontiff, effective February 28, 2013.  Please accept my resignation.

There are a number of factors that influenced my decision at this time.  I know that for the past 600 year, You have been the One to make the retirement decision for the Popes, often by force.  However, the job responsibilities have become increasing difficult for me.

I know that you are aware of the standing offer for me to appear on the next season of Dancing With the Stars, but that is not what brought me to this decision to retire.  While I was tempted by the chance to perform interpretive sambas and tangos that celebrate the Good News, it was not the driving factor.  It was one of many.

  1. The physical demands of the job were becoming too great.  I think we can agree that balancing a 2 foot tall 20 pound hat on your head is better suited for a younger man with a stronger back.  
  2. It is impossible to respond to the over 50,000 Twitter prayer requests that I receive each day and I have been having difficulty grasping the concept of the hash tag.  I keep confusing it with the number sign.
  3. More of the faithful are figuring out that I don’t really know Latin and that I have been making up words for the better part of 4 years now.  I feel it is best to retire before You decide to raise Latin from the dead and my secret is discovered.
  4. Your management style does not allow me sufficient independence to shape the Church as I see fit.  Everything is a Commandment with You.  After 80 years in Your service, I think I deserve not to be spoken to with “You shall” or “You shall not” all day long.  It is not very motivating.

While it is Your decision to select my replacement, may I offer one recommendation?  I believe that the Church needs to solidify its standing in Latin America and I believe that a Latin American Pope would be ideal.  

I know the perfect candidate.  He is Latino, he has been a Cardinal and he is now an Angel – Albert Pujols.  Le Hombre the First would unite the Church like no other replacement.  Beyond his devout Catholic beliefs, he can hit for power and average.  Just spitballing here.

Thank you for not ending the world during my reign.  That would have been embarrassing.  



PS - I would also ask that the Vatican repair shop take a look at the shocks on the Popemobile.  The ride has becomes uncomfortable especially over the cobblestone streets.  It pulls to the right at high speeds as well. 

Hook the Captain

Last night, the Washington Capitals lost to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1, turning in a listless effort.  Again.  Thank goodness there was some excitement during the national broadcast however.

If you didn’t see it, here’s NBC NHL analyst Mark Milbury providing the evening’s fireworks:

Alex Ovechkin is the captain of the Washington Capitals.  I never really questioned that designation, until now.  I do not question his captaincy based on one game and frankly I don’t question it based on his play the past year or so, although maybe I should.  It was something off the ice that turned my attitude.

Tuesday night, former Capital and legendary underachiever Alexander Semin returned to Washington after signing a one year deal with the Carolina Hurricane during the off season.  To celebrate his return, forward Troy Brouwer let the press know the Caps’ locker room consensus on the former teammate. 

“It’s tough to lose his scoring ability, when he wanted to play.”  Ouch…”when he wanted to play.”  That will leave a mark.  

Brouwer amplified his remarks, questioning his work ethic and commitment. 

“Some nights you didn’t even know if he was going to come to the rink.”  Double ouch.  Into the boards.

Matt Hendricks had similar comments about the talented but lazy star.  Former teammate Matt Bradley said as much 2 years ago in an interview.  Caps fans saw it during the playoffs.  Semin tried to survive on skill alone and for a while, that was enough.  Desire beats skill in hockey on most nights and definitely does in the playoffs.  Semin has none.

Ovechkin’s teammates sound off against Semin.  How does the captain of the team respond?  Ovechkin defends his friend and shares a dinner with him the night before the game.  During Semin’s 7 year tenure with the club, captain Ovechkin never called out his teammate and friend for uninspired effort.  Brouwer does.  Hendricks does. OV was captain.  That was his job.  He failed and Semin is someone else's headache. 

Milbury said what we’ve all been seeing with our own eyes for too long.  OV doesn’t back check with urgency.  He doesn’t move around on the power play.  He makes blind passes.  In short, there are at least 20 other players in the league that I would pick to anchor my franchise ahead of Ovechkin.  I am not ready to trade him but I don’t see any benefit in asking him to lead in the locker room when he can’t lead on the ice. 

The Semin example was the last straw for me.  OV is not cut out to be the captain of an NHL team. 

Brouwer and Hendricks have heart.  Maybe one of those guys should be captain.  Time to put the hook on OV.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The End Justifies the Mean-ness

We self-described exceptional Americans love a good televised train wreck.  The pain and the blood and the gore are fascinating as long as it is viewed from the safe distance of our sofas.  We idolize exceptionally rude behavior when the daggers are not directed our way.  

Simon Cowell is must see TV because he insults people, usually people we do not know personally and never will.  When strangers are broken down on national TV, we don’t pity them.  We chuckle.  We celebrate their persecutors and tune in for their spin-off program that promises more insults, more mental anguish and more therapy fodder for some unlucky cast member who can’t sing, can’t dance or just looks funny.

Someone else’s public pain is our private entertainment gain.

As Exhibit A, we need look no further than the marketing push for the latest installment of Donald Trump’s reality franchise, The Celebrity Apprentice.  The premise of the show is simple enough.  Sixteen former celebrities allow themselves to be subjected to a variety of humiliations in order to win a job being denigrated by Mr. Trump for a year as his employee.  The compensation package?  You get to be on TV for a few weeks.  As a bonus, you get mentioned on Twitter for a few days.

The build up for the new season is being trumpeted (pun intended) by the NBC network’s news outlets, like the Today show and, neither of which should ever be confused with serious news outlets.  The synergy between a news-esque program that covers natural disasters and man-made tragedies and a reality TV show that highlights personal disasters and creates man-made tragedies is obvious.  We Americans love a good train wreck, real or manufactured.  It sells.

The Donald proudly promoted the upcoming Apprentice season to Matt Lauer with this boast about its uplifting content:

"It's probably as tough and mean and nasty as we've had so far."

The show will feature meanness and nastiness without compare, and this is a positive attribute.  Set your DVRs, America.  The train is heading your way.

The one ‘star’ that Trump takes the time to mention is the single-name superstar, Omarosa, whose claim to fame is rise from anonymity because of her unrivaled ability to be mean and nasty without a hint of remorse or a twinge of mercy.  Her parents must be so proud.

"A lot of people are not getting along with Omarosa," Trump said.  “She's brutal!"

Again, Trump offers these comments as a compliment and as an inducement to watch the show.  Omarosa’s brutality is a strength.  The fact that no one can stand her is a job requirement.  Being mean means good.  Being good means no ratings.  Bad behavior wins.  Nice guy George Takei is fired after 2 episodes.  Lesson learned, America. 

I admit that I watched the first 2 seasons of The Apprentice, what could now be called its golden age, before it jumped the shark with so-called ‘famous’ people in the cast (I typically have only ever heard of half of each season’s cast of 16).  As an HR guy, I liked the Boardroom evaluations of candidate performance.  I know, sick stuff but I justified it as professional research.  That rationalization won’t fly anymore.  The show that pits Gary Busey against Meatloaf has no more redeeming social or professional value.

I can no longer rationalize the show’s raison d’etre, but Trump does rationalize the mean and nasty behavior because, hey, it raises money for charity.  They model boorish behavior, reward those who exhibit the worst behaviors, and lavish the most unstable contestants with copious amounts of air time.  That doesn’t sound like a good cause to me.

It’s for the least among us, Trumps tells us from his perch atop Trump Tower.  But if those same folks being helped by those charitable contributions are learning that to win and get ahead in life, to truly be successful, you need to add mean and nasty to your repertoire, then you can keep that money.  It may be doing more bad than good in the long run.

The end does not justify the mean.

...and Trump is an ass anyway.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rubbing Elbows with Yahoos Again

Yahoo announced yesterday that the foundational promise of Internet Age is dead.  Effective February 25, 2013, the dream of avoiding human interaction in the workplace has been rescinded by a simple all-employee memorandum (mission statement).  The name of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will go down in the history books as the woman who gave second life to all of our social anxieties.  She started the fire.  With one email, she reinstated the concept of “going to work” and talking to people.  In person. 

Al Gore, the dingo has eaten your baby.  

Yahoo announced this week that its workers could no longer avoid actual work by activating their personal cloaking device, the telecommuting defense.  By ending telecommuting at a company that seemed to embody the concept of remote virtual work, Yahoo has decided that no, the Internet is not as good as being there.  Only being there is as good as being there.  And we’d rather not be there.  We’d rather be alone with the world at our fingertips than in a meeting in the office with a few people at arm’s length.  

The promise of the Internet has always been that we could hide from other people.  Its great benefit was its way of helping us avoid human interaction while pretending to be in a state of perpetual human interaction.  We didn’t need to talk; we could text.  We didn’t need to call; we could Facebook.  Once we start being forced back into the workplace, it’s only a matter of time before we’re forced back into the bars to find dates or we forever lose the gift of making anonymous comments about others without fear of discovery.  No one can seriously want those days back.   

Today it’s Yahoo, but everyone follows those trendy Internet company practices if they want to compete.  Tomorrow it will be your company and mine.  Those comfy pajamas will have to go back in the drawer from 7 am until 6 pm.  Ladies, you’ll have to keep that bra secured until you safely return home to unwind and untether.  Men, you’ll need to brush your teeth and keep your audible flatulence to a bare minimum.  Human contact is again mandatory and your ability to face people and communicate in a social situation is a job requirement.  It will be on your annual review form, under the heading “Teamwork”.  

It could be that the socially awkward will unite via a MeetUp online forum and resist this slide back to the dark ages of the late 1990s.  It is not a stretch to imagine an online movement that accuses Yahoo of an unfair labor practice.  In the year 2013, certainly it is beyond reasonable expectations to ask employees to share a physical space with people they may not like.   In the year 2013, certainly it is beyond reasonable expectations to ask employees to smile at one another when a well-placed emoticon can do the trick.    

If businesses begin to embrace the concept of “going to work” again, the ripple effect could carry devastating costs.  Online dating sites would be shuttered as workers rediscover the benefits of office romance.  Workplace violence would spike as it would become increasingly problematic to gracefully ignore that social pariah that lingers in your office cubicle, talking about his latest visit to the Renaissance festival and his cat’s dental problems, without stirring his unresolved feelings of abandonment as a child.  Once he sees the visceral dislike in your eyes, it’s a short trip for him to the Wal Mart for a cursory background check and a high capacity elixir for his pain.

Workers should be trusted to work from any location and management should learn to adapt their 20th century practices to survive in a 21st century world.  Results should matter more than process.  These are not the real reasons to mourn the end of telecommuting at Yahoo and soon other high tech businesses.  We mourn because we have forgotten how to work with live people and the learning curve is just too steep.   Besides, we no longer own any clothes that would not violate the dress code.

At Yahoo, the company’s new slogan is one small step backwards for man, one giant leap backwards for mankind:  If I don’t see you, you are not working.  Trust at work has died alongside the days of telecommuting today, but that’s not the worst part.  The worst part is the hell of dealing with coworkers in person every day now. 

So it’s time to log off and get a shower, people.  It’s Hawaiian shirt Wednesday in the office and you are assigned the pineapple snack slices.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oscar Truthers

It’s been a busy time for conspiracy theorists these past few years.  There was the matter of Obama’s birth certificate that took several years to create.  The Fast and Furious conspiracy theorists continue to push the idea that the failed program was a ruse to distract Americans from the coming gun confiscation sweeps in a neighborhood near you.  We are told that Obama ordered the Sandy Hook massacre as part of his master plan to take over a defenseless Planet Earth.  And who could forget the Granddaddy of all conspiracies, Benghazi?    

It’s been so busy on the conspiracy front that I can forgive the Right for overlooking last night’s seed of a new conspiracy controversy.  To the lazy eye, it may have appeared to be nothing special.  But my conspiracy-seeking radar is dialed to the Right today, so let me help the overtaxed Right Wing theorists.  I think something was ‘amiss’ at the Oscars….a Miss Obama!

Last night, most Americans saw First Lady Michelle Obama present an award at a gathering of a wealthy group of Hollywood elites and by appearing, provide an indirect endorsement of their gay-friendly, morally casual conclave that celebrates a Golden Idol of secularism.  The Right has come to expect this behavior from this pagan administration.  Nothing to see here, move along.

But wait.  Look more closely, my paranoid friends.  Is there something suspicious about the First Lady’s presentation of Best Picture to Argo?  Why Argo over other qualified films?  Could there be a…conspiracy???   

Hollywood-Gate.  The Film Affair.  The Oscar Truther Movement begins.

My friends on the Right, I know you are busy researching the Friends of Hamas group that never existed but nonetheless gave money to Chuck Hagel.  So as a courtesy and time saver, here are your Oscar-Truther talking points.  If you don’t start asking your silly questions now, the movement may never take root.  You can thank me later. 
  • There were two envelopes, one held by Jack Nicholson and one handed to Michelle Obama at the final moment.  Why the two envelopes if there is only one winner?  What film name was printed on Nicholson’s card?  What are they hiding?
Look at the potential political ramifications if one of the other movies had won the award:
  • Honoring Lincoln would keep the 16th President’s name in the media, and that would only serve as an unflattering comparison to the current President.  Lincoln had to be killed, so Obama picked Argo. 
  • Picking Life of Pi would sound like Mrs. Obama was paying homage to the Eastern World and reinforce feelings that the Obamas are not like us.  If Life of Pi were to be honored, it would smack of shameless pandering to a growing minority in advance of immigration reform negotiations.  Pi’s Life could not be glorified with an award.  It needed to be cut adrift.
  • If Zero Dark Thirty had won the Oscar, it would sound like the administration was endorsing a “torture works” philosophy.  Any movie that makes Dick Cheney look right could not be a winner.
  • Selecting Django Unchained would keep the foul and politically incorrect language of that movie in the spotlight, and Obama could not allow that if he wanted to appease his base.  There was no chance he would allow Michelle to praise that film.  Django had to be set free.
There were only positives for the Obama administration by choosing Argo as Best Picture:
  • The movie reminds the public of the one good thing that happened during Democrat Jimmy Carter’s administration.  Since Obama has been compared by the Right to Carter, he saw this as an opportunity to repair Carter’s image and thereby his own.   Diabolical!
  • Argo highlights how smart and brave the Canadians are, making it harder to argue that they can’t handle a health care system that covers everyone for less money.  Obama is softening the ground to roll out a single payer plan in America.
  • Argo proves that clandestine activities work better than military intervention, a subtle reference to Obama’s policy of secret missions instead of direct confrontation.  Best Picture today, Best Foreign Policy tomorrow.
  • Finally, the choice of Argo means that the accomplished and sympathetic Ben Affleck is now the favorite to win the vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts…once he shaves off the terrorist beard.
So, all you Right Wing conspiracy theorist – get out your blogs and your tweets.  There is work to be done, but at least I am giving you a head start.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Going Green

Is there too much money in politics?  I think that’s a rhetorical question, but not everyone agrees.  There should be consensus that there is a lot of money making that political world go ‘round today.  That I hope we can objectively agree this is not a controversial contention.  I mean, politicians’ faces are on money.  That should tell us something. 

2012 was our first Presidential election post-Citizen’s United.  The final tally was $1.1 billion spent, and that’s just what we know about.  This figure does not include the GOP primary campaigns.  Sheldon Adelson gave $10 million to Newt Gingrich and $10 million to Mitt Romney and we’re expected to believe that this was purely humanitarian aid without future strings attached.  When a billionaire drops $10 million, he has an agenda.

The average member of Congress – and we wish they were at least average – has to spend 4 hours of every day for their entire term focused on raising money for reelection.  For most members of Congress, that’s every waking hour!  Fundraising trumps legislating and learning science and math.  

Does the obscene amount of money being pledged to candidates poison the process in favor of the uber-wealthy? 

That’s not rhetorical.  Yes, it does.

No, money alone won’t swing elections.  Just ask the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson or Karl Rove.  And the uber-wealthy have just as much right to have their voices heard on the issues as the wretched poor.  They do. But the overreliance on cash sure can poison the aftermath of an election when it comes to legislating and governing decisions.

This issue is heating up again in the courts, and could be the big story that no one notices.  According to

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to delve into the controversial issue of money and politics -- again. This time, the court agreed to take up a challenge brought by an Alabama man who claims it's unconstitutional to prevent him from giving more than $46,200 to candidates and $70,800 to PAC's and political committees.  The Alabama man doesn’t challenge the limit on contributions to an individual candidate, but he does claim it's unconstitutional to prevent him from contributing to as many candidates as he wishes. 

You’ll never guess what political party has joined the Man from Alabama in his suit.  The Republican National Committee is hoping that if contribution limits are lifted, the national party will be able to overwhelm the outside groups that they believe are hurting their establishment candidates.

A world without limits.   Ponderous, man.

One party is poised to take the gloves off completely and deregulate campaign spending.  The position has been that money is speech (and corporations are people, war is peace, ignorance is strength, freedom is slavery, etc.).  The problem with the “money is speech” line of reasoning is simple.  To paraphrase Orwell, money empowers some speech to be more equal than others.  While the uber-wealthy and wretched poor have an equal right to speak, with unlimited cash, only one voice will be heard.  Spoiler alert: it would not be the voice of the poor.

I don’t know what the correct balance should be between contributing to the candidate of your choice and buying a politician, but I do know that adding unlimited money to the process will not only diminish the governing authority of the winners, it will legitimize the direct buying and selling of votes.  

Just as more guns will not make us safer, more money in electoral politics will not make us freer.  

Campaign finance reform, however it is defined ultimately, will be imperfect, but the alternative is worse.